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Laura Brand's Favourite Activities to Play with the Kids

Posted on 5th May 2020 by Mark Skinner

The Joy Journal for Magical Everyday Play is a perfect guide for setting up fun and imaginative activities and creative crafts that children and adults can enjoy together. In this exclusive piece, the book's inspirational author, Laura Brand, reveals her top activities to share with kids.  

Being stuck at home can be incredibly stressful for parents when we are all used to having the freedom to go to the playground, see friends and family, or join a fun class with our little ones – who, if they are anything like my two daughters, are bursting with energy from the moment they wake right through until bedtime. When I wrote my book, The Joy Journal for Magical Everyday Play, I had no idea that it would be released at a time when all of our lifestyles would have altered so dramatically, but luckily there are activities throughout the book that are perfectly suited to days at home with limited resources and connected play for us, the grown-ups, to enjoy along with our children. I am going to share with you my favourite activities from the book that are perfect for those ‘rainy’ kind of days, meaning you won’t even need to step out of your door to enjoy them.

Upcycled Shadow Puppets would have to come in at number one, providing entertainment time and time again – be that while making them or playing around with them – and all you will need is a cereal box, a paper straw, some tape, scissors and a pencil. Don’t forget a torch too (but most of us have those to hand, on our phones!) I discovered the joy of the homemade shadow puppet on a rainy day when we had nothing at home to craft with, or so we thought . . . Having finished a pack of cereal that morning, the box was on the counter in front of me and it wasn’t long before we were having a laugh as a family creating characters and trying out our new repurposed cereal boxes along with voices, storylines and a lot of joy.

For the days when my girls want to paint but I can’t quite handle the mess of getting all the craft paints out, I turn to the nostalgic Magic Pictures, something I used to do when I was a little girl. Use a white crayon to draw on paper, before washing over it in watercolour paints to reveal images or provide a fun learning experience with numbers and letters, either way, the first time you try this with your children watch their surprise. If you have time (sure, after all the other thousand jobs you have to do!?), you could draw a selection out on paper, at the ready, for those moments when you need something to occupy them, fast.

What kid doesn't love to blow bubbles into their drink with a straw? Well with Bubble Painting, that energy can be channelled into creating beautiful pieces of artwork using a mixture of washing up liquid, paint and water (just don’t suck it in!) We have been cutting up our bubble paintings into postcard sizes to send customised notecards to our friends, whom we miss. Hopeful that these will brighten someone’s day!

Squishy Soap has to be mentioned because, although this one has one of the highest mess factors in the book, it could not be a more perfect time to introduce you to an activity that will make washing your hands (or your kids hands!) and hygiene fun! It is literally as it says in the title, a squishy, play dough-like soapy, putty which genuinely does clean hands and provide a fun making experience for everyone – I know plenty of adults who have tried this one too. It is made using cornflour, liquid soap and cooking oil, a dash of colouring is optional. If you store it in an air tight jar you can pull off a small piece to use although don’t be surprised if you get through the whole lot at once. This really engages kids in washing their hands and makes the whole process less of a chore. I keep a jar on the go to make bath time extra fun too!

The long days, the repetition of tasks and chores, the need for a quiet cup of tea. If you feel that some days are lacking in inspiration, the Quiet Basket is here to rescue you. It will take a moment of preparation after the kids are in bed, but when you are stuck on ideas or you just want your kids to ‘play quietly’, then handing them this basket of carefully selected books, toys, puzzles or games will encourage calm, independent play, learning and curiosity. To help when putting it together, choose a theme based on what you have around your home and add something in that they may not expect. I recently put a jar of feathers in (found on our daily walk) to complement the theme of birds.

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